Georgia lands $38.5 million privatization contract

| 5/22/2006

State officials in Georgia have signed a contract to pay a consortium of private firms $38.5 million to study and design additional lanes in the Atlanta area to combat the city’s congestion problems.

The deal with Georgia Transportation Partners is the first to be signed under the state’s Public-Private Initiative law.

Since 2004, Georgia has been trying to work public-private contracts into its road-building efforts, and the Department of Transportation reported success on Friday, May 19, when officials signed the deal to expand Interstates 75 and 575.

The project could include truck-only toll lanes and high-occupancy lanes for people who want to pay tolls to avoid other congested highways.

In 2004 it was estimated that the expansion project would cost $1.8 billion, according to the DOT. The cost estimate will be reworked under the new agreement.

The $38.5 million contract signed last week calls for Georgia Transportation Partners to conceptualize and design the project and conduct traffic studies.

Goldman Sachs is reported to be interested in investing in truck-only toll lanes on I-285 between I-75 and I-20, and on I-20 from Perimeter Road to Thornton Road, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Other public-private partnerships being considered in the state include the possible tolling of Georgia Highway 316 and the addition of high-occupancy toll lanes to Georgia Highway 400.

By David Tanner, staff writer